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tv   Sanjay Gupta MD  CNN  November 24, 2012 1:30pm-2:00pm PST

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in england. experts say it will be tough to crack this one without relevant code books. and utah's newest congressman, chris stewart, wants to be the first person to write a memoir on elizabeth smart. stewart expects that it will be published by september, 2013. and it would be the first book detailing smart's account of her kidnapping back in 2002, her recovery, and more. that will do it for me, i'm fredricka whitfield. the cnn news room continues at the top of the hour, with martin savage filling in for don lemon. keep it here for sanjay gupta. everywhere you look, it seems a heart attack is just waiting to happen. more than a million heart attacks a year. that is one just about every 30 seconds, just in the united states. if you haven't had a heart attack yourself, you likely know someone who has. well, i have a secret to share.
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with what we know right now we could see the last heart attack in america. i have been investigating this for over a year. i have lessons to share. things you need to know, things your doctor may not tell you. i'm a pretty typical guy in his early 40s with a family history of heart disease. so i decided to go on a mission to never have a heart attack. but how? this doctor has guaranteed he can see trouble coming, years in advance. >> here is where the blood is flowing, and this is the lining. >> reporter: agatson is using an ultrasound to look for plaque in the artery, a blockage here would be a sign i'm at increased risk of a heart attack. >> unless you do the imaging, you are playing with trouble. >> you're looking for what? >> the plaque, the calcium.
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>> i have never had a problem, but you're looking for it anyway. >> yes, and if you're heading for a heart attack in five, ten, 20 years, you will already have plaque. it is a lifelong process. >> we all know plaque is bad, blocks your blood vessels. it is formed by the cholesterol in the blood, the bad cholesterol. think of it as "l," for lousy, building up on the walls of your artery, creating plaque, building up over time, narrowing the blood vessels. this narrowing in the blood vessels leading to your heart can cause chest pain, called angina. it can also cause a heart attack. did you ever wonder how seemingly healthy people can have a heart attack? this may surprise you. most heart attacks happen in people with no symptoms. in people whose arteries are less than 50% blocked. here is how.
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cholesterol can cause unstable bubbles or blisters of plaque to form in your arteries and can be incredibly dangerous. most of them are covered by a cap, but stress, and other dangers can cause that to rupture, blocking the flow to the heart. robbed of oxygen, the heart muscle can't function properly. heart attack. and therein lies the key, agatson says, we can now find clues before heart trouble gets dangerous, even before the first symptoms. >> one of the best kept secrets in the country in medicine is that doctors who are practicing aggressive prevention are really seeing heart attacks and strokes disappear from their practices. it is doable. >> and you're saying with what we know right now, we don't have to have anymore heart attacks in this country. >> i'll never say not any, but the great majority, yes, absolutely. >> it is the biggest killer of men and women, heart disease in
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this country? >> and it is stoppable. >> your body makes cholesterol, in the lining of every cell in your body. the liver sends out ldl cholesterol, and when everything works right, the good, hdl, takes the ldl and brings it back to the liver. you also get cholesterol in foods, things like meats, eggs, butter, ice cream. the cholesterol number is a good measure of what is in the blood. but here is the problem. it doesn't tell you if it is building up in the walls of your blood vessels, forming plaque, which causes heart attacks. >> if you look in the coronary care unit, the people who have heart attacks, the cholesterol levels of those who have heart attacks versus those of people in the street who have it, are essentially the same. >> that is surprising, you hear people exchanging numbers, if it is low, they're proud of it. high, a cause for concern, you
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say you're not looking in the right place. >> that is essentially useless. >> here is what does matter, he says, the size of the ldl, or bad particles, larger particles don't pose much of a threat, because they pass through the blood vessels without sticking. it is the smaller particles that lodge in the vessels and cause a build-up of plaque. that is why the doctor likes the blood sample. he wants to find out if i have a lot of small ldl particles, a sign that i could be prone to building up plaque, no matter what the numbers are. you will hear about my test results in just a bit. but next, a controversial diet. this 66-year-old woman skipped surgery to try and eat her way to heart health. >> we'll never end the epidemic with stents and bypasses. exhumat
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. sharon is sixty-six years old, a retired private investigator from canton, ohio. a year ago she had a heart attack after an artery became completely blocked. >> he said for someone who had what you have, the only warning you usually get is death. and at that point, i really knew how lucky i was. >> reporter: like a lot of women, she did not experience the classic chest pain, but rather fatigue, and a pain in her jaw. >> he said you're going to have to have open heart surgery. he said i can fix you today, just take you right down to or and operate on you right now. my son was in there, and he was ready to wheel me down to the operating room, because he was frantic. it is terrifying. >> reporter: what she did next surprised you. she turned the surgeon down cold and said no to open heart
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surgery. >> i bought these parsnips the other day. >> reporter: using food as medicine. >> i love these. this is wonderful. >> reporter: she is betting her life on a controversial diet. created by dr. caldwell esselton. >> we know what they shouldn't it. that is oil, dairy, meat, fish and chicken. what do we want them to eat? all of those whole grains, beans, vegetables, yellow, red, green and fruit. now, what particular vegetables do we want them to have? bok choi, mustard greens, arugula, asparagus, and i'm out of breath. >> you can imagine, the meat and
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dairy association thinks that is a terrible idea. >> putting lean beef in a healthy diet can actually help you stick to a healthy diet, because it is a food you enjoy. >> eggs are a source of vitamins and minerals. >> dairy foods are nutrient-rich. >> he has no special degree in nutrition. but when it comes to food as medicine, he is a true believer. >> you know, sharon, doctors recommended she had an intervention, she is not doing it. is there a down side? could she put herself at risk? >> no, i think that is a great question. in data going back over 20 years and in this most recent study, once they start to eat this way, you will make yourself heart attack proof. we know that if people are eating this way they're not going to have arrest heart attack. >> his food-based prescription
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puts him squarely against conventional wisdom which says diet is only part of a heart-healthy life-style. >> if a doctor said heart disease is a food borne disease, if you follow this diet, in exchange you wouldn't have a heart attack, what would you say with that? would you agree with it. >> i would say it is an over-statement of what we're really able to do. though i know there are people that say it. >> i was curious about the science, so i dug up the peer review journals, they're small, just a handful. but impressive. but people on the cholesterol-lowering medication, and the diets had no heart incidents, and three quarters of the people saw their blockages get smaller. >> you're not talking about using the heart attacks, you're talking about reversing.
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>> the late wisdom is, that once you develop these plaques, they're there, you're stuck with them, try not to let them get worse, is that faulty thinking? >> i think it is absolutely faulty thinking. >> reporter: here is a picture, he shows the patient with the blocked artery, and here is that same patient after going on the plant-based diet. you see how that disappeared? a year after her heart attack, she feels great. check out those moves. a year ago, simply walking was enough to wear her out. with the diet, there is one question you have to ask. can she keep it up? i asked sharon to meet me here in new york city. you know, cooking at home is one thing, but eating on the road, eating on the run, well, that is quite another. as the old saying goes, if her diet can make it here, it can make it anywhere. 46th and broadway, please.
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sharon, how are you? all right, so here is another restaurant. >> okay. >> i'm going to take some advice from you. you look at a menu like this, tell me what comes to your mind. >> the majority on there, i'm not going to eat. >> so you just -- >> i can have the baby spinach leaves, minus the chicken, i could have the peaches, the strawberries, forget the walnuts. >> is this a restaurant where you could eat a meal here? >> you bet i could. >> do you think this will help you live longer? >> well, i hope so i hope you get to see you retire. >> i have a feeling you will live a very long time, which i hope you do. >> i hope you do, too. you know what, if i don't live longer, i know i'm going to live more of a quality life. coming up, former president bill clinton opens up about his
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bad heart and his own brush with death. he tells me he is now a vegan. that is right, a vegan. [ man ] in hong kong, on my way to the board meeting... anne's tablet called my phone. anne's tablet was chatting with a tablet in sydney... a desktop in zurich... and a telepresence room in brazil. the secure cloud helped us get some numbers from my assistant's pc in new york. and before i reached the top, the board meeting became a congrats we sold the company party. wait til my wife's phone hears about this. [ cellphone vibrating ] [ female announcer ] with cisco at the center, working together has never worked so well.
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a survey by the american heart association found that 40% of americans believe their hearts are had great shape. the number? fewer than 1%. president clinton was an example, he passed all his physicals, but later, it took a triple bypass operation to save his life. >> i was lucky i didn't die of a
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heart attack. >> former president clinton, like too many people, was busy. and for years he ignored warning signs from his heart. but in 2004, during an exhausting book tour, there was something different. >> i had a real tightness in my chest when i was getting off the airplane. and it was the only time i had had it, unrelated to exercise. >> we're here outside the new york presbyterian hospital, where president bill clinton is scheduled to go through surgery. >> so i immediately went down to our local hospital. and they did a test. they said you have real problems. they hustled me down to columbia presbyterian, and they confirmed the determination that i had serious blockage and needed the surgeries. >> the doctors immediately knew, options were limited.
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the fifty-eight-year-old clinton needed to have his heart stopped and surgery performed. >> there was no procedure to reverse what was in his blood vessels. >> all i remember happening, everybody who cared about me was scared. and i felt rather serene. >> on labor day in 2004, mr. clinton had four blood vessels bypassed. >> starting this morning, at about 8:00, he had a relatively routine triple bypass operation. we left the operating room around noon and he is recovering normally. >> well, it hurt like the devil for about three weeks. and it hurt so much that i had a hard time even watching movies, much less reading. and then when i started again to exercise, and i forced myself out, i mean like the first day. tried to just walk a half block one way or the other, i was really trying to push myself into doing the therapy there was that period when you're just not
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sure you can come back. >> did you confront your mortality? >> oh, yeah, but i lived with it. i am -- you know, when i was in elementary school, i was fascinated by cemeteries. and i used to walk in the cemetery in the little town where i was born where my father and my grandparents are buried. now my mother buried. and i used to go visit them and read the head stones and see when people were buried there, and when they lived and how long they lived. it was different for me. i was -- i grew up knowing that i couldn't live forever. i grew up knowing that people i loved would die, because my father died before i was born. so i never had the fear, the terror of my own mortality. >> how do you know that you're healthy now? first of all, would you call yourself healthy now? >> well, i think i'm healthier
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than i was. you know, i lost 20-something pounds. and i feel good. and i actually have believe it or not more energy. i seem to need -- when i do sleep, i sleep better, but i seem to need less sleep to function at a reasonably high level than i did before. >> i mean, you talked about the fact that i love to eat. >> you know, i like the stuff, the vegetables, the fruits, the beans, the stuff i eat now, i like. i like it. >> do you call yourself a vegan now then? >> well, i suppose i am if i don't eat dairy or meat or fish, you know. >> so you cut all of that out? >> well, the only thing, once in a while, literally well over a year now, at thanksgiving i had one bite of turkey. >> i mean, you're doing this for your health is that why you're doing it? >> yes, absolutely.
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>> mr. president, how are you? >> great. >> last time we spoke a few weeks ago you said you were going to be really strict on the diet. you were doing a pretty good job. >> i'm more strict now, yeah, by the time i had my 65th -- have my 65th birthday, i want to weigh what i did when i went home from law school in 1973. >> wow, that is a grand ambition, how much was that, will you tell us? >> uh-huh, i weighed, i got down to 185. now i got down -- when chelsea was married, i weighed about 192, which was when i weighed when i graduated high school. anything under 192 was the optimal weight. i ran at the hottest time of the day, which i could do in order to make the pounds go off. it was the first time since i
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was thirteen years old, to weigh that much. and the pictures don't lie, i learned if my arteries were young or old. and i'll find out what fate has for me. [ woman ] ring. ring. progresso. in what world do potatoes, bacon and cheese add up to 100 calories? your world. ♪ [ whispers ] real bacon... creamy cheese... 100 calories... [ chef ] ma'am [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup.
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so what about me? i have a family history. am i heart attack proof? so a couple of weeks ago i met up with the doctor, to gauge my chances of having a heart attack. >> doctor, good to see you. >> time to find out what the fate is. >> we had had had good imaging, you had no plaque in the arteries, on the calcium score. that your arteries were really like a spring chicken. >> somebody made a comment to me, that this is sort of like a four-year guarantee, would you agree with them? >> yes, i would say up to five years.
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>> you would say based on this, five to seven years if i feel chest pain, probably not a heart attack? >> yes. >> more good news, looking at the ldl, the bad cholesterol, the doctor said they're mostly large particles, the kind that don't build up as plaque in the blood vessels. >> putting this altogether, the imaging, the laboratory tests, what can you tell me? >> you're at low risk for a heart attack, even though there is family history. clearly your life-style, the exercising, the diet, decreased your risk. >> if diet and exercise can make somebody like me a low risk for a heart attack, even with a strong family history, well that is encouraging. >> i think there is not only a question that not only can we be past the last heart attack, but the vast majority of people, even my ge